Righteousness by Faith Spelled Out

By John Thiel


This verse in Psalm leaves you without a doubt what righteousness is meant to be:

Psalm 119:138 Thy testimonies that thou hast commanded are righteous and very faithful.

The margin says righteousness. If you want a plain proof text of what is righteousness, it is His commandments. 

Psalm 119:142 Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth.

Psalm 119:144The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting: give me understanding, and I shall live.

Psalm 119:172 My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness.

The testimonies are the Ten Commandments. This is why some people put interpretations on it. They can’t differentiate the mosaic law from the moral law. That’s another study in itself. 

He gave them the Ten Commandments and He added no more.

Deuteronomy 5:22 These words the LORD spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: and he added no more. And he wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me.

God put the Ten Commandments in the ark and the mosaic law he put on the outside of the ark. That mosaic law was a law that was against you. That is what apostle Paul talks about. The law that was against you.  People use what is says in Colossians to say the commandments were against us.

Let the Bible do the talking.

If we desire to attain to righteousness, according to what we read, the commandments are righteous, we are attempting to keep Gods commandments, there is a problem.

Read what the problem is. When God gave the Hebrews the Ten Commandments and Joshua took over from Moses, look at what God said. What did he say to the Hebrews?

Joshua 24:19 And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.

What does hH say?  This is something which we can’t run away from. The moment we try to keep the law we fail. That is what He is saying. 

Isaiah 64:5 Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways: behold, thou art wroth; for we have sinned: in those is continuance, and we shall be saved. 6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

The important thought here is that we are all an unclean thing. He is holy.  All our righteousness’s are as filthy rags.

If we try to reach out for righteousness, we are doomed to fail and the apostle Paul acknowledges in Romans 7. The law tells you what sin is. You can see what the law is. He is talking about the Ten Commandments.

Romans 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

8 But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. 9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. 10 And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me. 12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.

The apostle makes it clear the Ten Commandments are essential but I can’t keep them.

Romans 7:14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.

That is what Joshua meant. God is holy and you can’t do it.  In chapter 7 he is in an experience of discovery. He says when the law came; wasn’t he with the law before he became a Christian? He didn’t know the law until he met Christ.

Romans 7:22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:

He is describing the predicament the sinner is in. He may come to the law and recognise it to be life but he can’t keep it.  What did he declare as the only resolution to the problem?

Romans 7:24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

That language is very important. I am so wretched, I try to keep the law and I can’t because of sin in my members and then he says, I thank God through Jesus Christ. That word through needs to be carefully studied. What is he talking about? Through Jesus Christ?

The law served for a purpose.

Galatians 3:19 19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. 20 Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one. 21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. 22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

Note the word righteousness, by the law.  It could have been that way.  What was the law for? To bring you to Christ because you couldn’t keep it as we are sinful but it was necessary for us to come to Christ.  It shows you your need for the grace of God through Christ. 

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

What is the law of sin? The hereditary nature. Jesus inherited our DNA. The law of hereditary. The sin we have received.  By one man all were made sinners and by another man all were made righteous.  

Romans 8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Marginal reading – sacrifice for sin.

Romans 8 explains what he meant when he said I thank God through Jesus Christ. What was it in Jesus? Jesus came in the same flesh that we have.  Jesus received exactly the same sinful flesh that he had trouble with and Jesus condemned sin in the flesh so we can keep the law.

To attain to the deeper levels of righteousness and keeping the law, we are in a progress of the law that leads us to Christ.

If I try to keep the law in my own strength, I won’t get there. I want to be found in Christ and not of my doing.  With the faith of Christ. A lot of people say faith in Christ. It’s the faith of Christ.

Philippians 3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

His faith given to us is the new nature. This is righteousness by faith, the faith of Jesus.

Philippians 3:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

This is all part of the experience of following Jesus.

Philippians 3:11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. 12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. 16 Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.

What’s he talking about? Attaining? He is talking about through Jesus Christ reaching to perfection. Reaching perfection of law keeping. By focusing on him and following him, we will be able to maintain those laws. Not through his strength.  Not from our own interpretation but from the faith of Jesus that he demonstrates to us. This is righteousness by faith.

He who is trying to reach heaven by his own works in keeping the law is attempting an impossibility. FW 94.1

Haven’t we proven that from the Bible?

Man cannot be saved without obedience, but his works should not be of himself; Christ should work in him to will and to do of His good pleasure. If a man could save himself by his own works, he might have something in himself in which to rejoice. The effort that man makes in his own strength to obtain salvation is represented by the offering of Cain. All that man can do without Christ is polluted with selfishness and sin; but that which is wrought through faith is acceptable to God. When we seek to gain heaven through the merits of Christ, the soul makes progress. “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith,” we may go on from strength to strength, from victory to victory; for through Christ the grace of God has worked out our complete salvation. FW 94.1

It is the faith of Christ. 

Revelation 14:12 Here is the patience of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.”

They are keeping the commandments as they have the faith of Jesus. It is alone by faith that we receive from Christ. He is the author and finisher of that faith. As I study Christ and absorb him in my life, that is the faith I’m going to practise and that faith is the gift of God.

Ephesians 2:8 for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, that no one would boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before that we would walk in them.

Faith is the gift of God.  Faith is the gift. Jesus was given to us as a gift. That is why apostle Paul said through Jesus Christ.  Jesus said I am the door, walk through me.  We are his workmanship through Jesus Christ. Jesus was made in the likeness of sinful flesh.  In the same sinful flesh we have he showed us how to conquer sinful flesh as he did

Can you see how the majority of protestants today have missed this? They do not believe sanctification is important, just justification. Through Jesus we live the life that Jesus lived.  We are his workmanship, it is the gift of God.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life

Jesus is the gift and it is the faith of Jesus we are to receive.  That is all that is written.

Hebrews 12:2 Looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider him who has endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, that you don’t grow weary, fainting in your souls.

Of our faith. It is the faith of Jesus, he is the author of it. If we will attain to righteousness which is changing our sin to His righteousness, we must study Him.  Study the law and you will discover how sinful you are, study Him, you will discover how sinful you are and He will give the faith to follow Him.  Psalm 22, 40 and 69 is Jesus being crucified. His experience in Gethsemane.

2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord, the Spirit.

We are to be changed into the same image of Christ’s glory.

Beholding Christ means studying His life as given in His Word. We are to dig for truth as for hidden treasure. We are to fix our eyes upon Christ. . 6BC 1098.1

We won’t see immediate changes. It is not magic. It is a process of discovery and growth in Christ. Remember what faith is? Hebrews 11:1-6.  You don’t see it straight away, but you keep hoping for it by following Christ and His example.

Hebrews 11:6 Without faith it is impossible to be well pleasing to him, for he who comes to God must believe that he exists, and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him.

We are to diligently seek him by studying him through scripture. As we diligently search for that treasure, the Lord will help us. It is a faith of hope. Not something you can see.  People say I can’t see it.  How are you saved? People who give up and say it’s justification only not sanctification, can’t see progress in themselves which is why they come up with theology.

Romans 8:24 For we were saved in hope, but hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for that which he sees? 25 But if we hope for that which we don’t see, we wait for it with patience.

Can you see now why it says the patience of the saints?  The whole picture starts coming together.

Isaiah 56:1 Thus says Yahweh, Keep you justice, and do righteousness; for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed. 2 Blessed is the man who does this, and the son of man who holds it fast; who keeps the Sabbath from profaning it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil.

That’s where the Sabbath comes in. Because it is something you don’t quite see, we are saved by hope. If I am saved by hope, I don’t see it yet. Therefore, keep on pursuing it, keep on looking to Jesus because my salvation of hope will come later on.

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Sabbath Sermons is a small resource information ministry in Australia standing upon the original platform of the Adventist truth. We are dedicated to spreading the special 'testing truths' for our time and are not affiliated with the various denominations. This website is administered by lay members only

Posted on 21/05/2023, in Righteousness by Faith. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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